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Archive for the tag “Christmas presents”

Little book packs a spicy festive punch

When I decided to create a meal in a book, I could hardly have hoped to put together a more lovely thing: art, food and fun all in a perfect package. ‘We don’t write recipes down’ has surpassed my expectations in so many ways. I know the whole team is proud and delighted with our little book. You can find out more about how the project originated here.

How good does Dewa’s cashew nut curry look? Cooked by Lex Lang.

We’ve had great success so far with selling copies of the book despite lockdown. I’m hoping we might entice more people to treat others or themselves with a gift of a copy for Christmas. It’s a great little present and you’ll be supporting a super charity with your purchase. Read on to find out more about the book, the charity – and the food!

Here’s Dewa at our launch of ‘We don’t write recipes down’ back in August at her pop-up curry night at The Mule On Rouge in Berwick

It’s a real delight to have sold over 200 copies so far and to pass on all profits and generous donations to our nominated Sri Lankan charity The Jasmine Foundation. The charity provides vital and life-changing education, training and support to women in rural communities in Sri Lanka. Jessica Mason, co-founder of the charity, says:

We are so grateful for the £600 we’ve just received from the ‘We don’t write recipes down’ project. We can achieve so much with this sum of money in empowering women. Thank you!’

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to support a brilliant charity. And, on top of that, to hear about people’s enjoyment of the book. We’ve been chuffed to receive photos and feedback from readers about the amazing food they’ve cooked from ‘We don’t write recipes down’. Pauline Beaumont who’s just published a book about the therapeutic benefits of baking bread: ‘Bread Therapy: The Mindful Art of Baking Bread’. cooked Dewa’s chicken curry and says:

Despite the absence of pandan leaves in my spice cupboard, Dewa’s curry was a great success. I’m so glad that Jackie did capture these recipes and write them down for us to enjoy.

And just look at this fabulous take on Dewa’s Watalappam Pud from @peapodboat on Instagram.

It would be marvellous to send even more money to support Sri Lankan women. Please do share about our meal in a book ‘We don’t write recipes down’ – it’s a fab little gift – Christmas or otherwise. You can buy it from me Jackie Kaines by contacting me at the ‘We don’t write recipes down’ Facebook page – or leave me a message here – locally from our hugely supportive friends at Geo. C Grieve, Lowick Village Store and The Mule on Rouge.

Team 'We don't write recipes down'
The ‘We don’t write recipes down’ team: Daniel Cox, Dewa Morton, Katie Chappell and Jackie Kaines

From stationery to toast tweezers: useful items to inspire your present lists

One of my nieces has issued a pre-birthday/Christmas present list since she was tiny. It seems a bit audacious – don’t you wait until your lovely Aunty phones to ask what you’d like? In reality it’s genius: she receives the fluffy ear muffs of her choice and the brand of shampoo she favours. Successful present lists manage to combine, I think, elements of quirkiness with a wide price range – oh, and plenty of time for purchases to be made. For me, usefulness is also important. In an attempt to be useful here’s a few items to inspire your Christmas lists and shopping. Most items found here in Berwick…shopping locally is tops on so many levels.

Under £5


  • “Have I taken my pills today?” The pill chest is the solution. One week pill chest, 0.69p/7 day pill reminder, 0.79p (Home Bargains, Marygate). I’m sure you can find more extravagant options. The Husband may still forget his pills but at least he knows which day he’s forgotten them.
  • Jumbo Velcro rollers – I’ve found my inner Hilda Ogden! Great to bond with your children (check for headlice first!) in hilarious hair salon sessions. I found a pack of four in Home Bargains, 0.99p.
  • Parchment baking sheets – I love them. Easy to clean and eco-friendly. Use heavier duty ones for lining oven bottoms, ordinary weight for roasting and baking trays. The Green Shop, Bridge Street has a £3.29 one – treat someone to a pair of cosy bamboo socks while you’re there.
  • Toast tweezers. When you spot your child attacking the toaster with a fork, you’ll realise how essential these are. Mine are gorgeous bamboo ones from Cookcraft Kitchen Shop, Bridge Street, £3.50.
  • I would happily spend days stroking and sniffing new stationery. My current favourite notepad is a Pukka with in-built dividers and little pockets for tickets and things. I bought it at Grieves on Church Street, £3.99. Sorry about the sniffing and stroking, Mr Grieves.


£5 – £20

  • Not useful as such, but fun. Ginormous balloons made of really thick stuff – inflated they look like huge globe lamps. (Danish Design, Marygate, £9.00). I like their range of mobiles too – a cool addition to any room (from £12).


A mighty balloon!

  • Precious about tea? The Blomus Teastick (£18, Jones & Jones, Bridge Street) is the answer. Beautiful German design, it measures and infuses a perfect cuppa for one. They have some very pretty elephant tea caddies (£10.95) too.
  • An odour rub stone (Cookcraft, £9.50) removes oniony smells from fingers. Although a good buff of your hands on a stainless steel sink also does the job.
  • Slicing, dicing, squeezing and twirling vegetables (a range of mandolin/spiral cutters available in Cookcraft, £10-£40) is a great way of getting children hands-on (choose wisely or it’ll be hands-off) in the kitchen – creating carrot or courgette spaghetti for salads or noodle soup, for example.
  • Tweezers and 10x magnifying mirrors – What’s that? For make-up, of course. *Whisper*: essential for those of us with failing eyesight and sprouting chins. Whichever type you choose (I favour slant-ended Tweezermans) keep the plastic bit on the end and replace after each use to maintain grippiness.

Over £20

  1. MicroPedi by Emjoi – I got mine from Argos for £24.99. The briefest daily use and it’s goodbye hard skin, hello gorgeous feet. Soletastic.
  2. AfterShokz Sportz3 open ear stereo headphones (£49.96) – perfect for sporty peeps if, like me, you hate having stuff in your ears. Safer too as you can still hear the world as you rush by.
  3. SleepPhones Wireless Ultra-Comfortable Bluetooth Headband Headphones (£59.95) – I sent these direct to London Daughter who’s suffering with noisy neighbours. She raves about them (not the neighbours – they’re the ravers).
  4. The strimmer (mine’s a Black & Decker). My birthday gift from the husband – romantic devil. Perfect for bits the mower won’t reach, weedy patios, cobbles and neat lawn edges. Get a shoulder strap – half an hour’s strimming is equivalent to rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall.


Hello beautiful feet – soletastic: the Micro Pedi

Here’s to happy present-list-writing and shopping.

From rechargeable hot water bottles to potato ricers: gadgets to lift the winter gloom

Quite a wild idea to take the hedgetrimmer to bed!

February is often the month when one truly takes stock after the festive season. And it can all look a bit bare and empty – what with the short days and the grey weather. It’s often the month when the burning resolution to lose weight/exercise more/give up smoking fizzles into a vague intention; the month when the joy of a new beginning effortlessly slips into the humdrum reality of day-by-day living for another year.

So, for my own amusement and your delectation, I decided to divert myself from brow-beating and count my blessings in gadgets and gizmos. Here’s a little romp (in no particular order) through the gadgets recent – and not so recent – that I have loved and found useful or entertaining. Computers, phones etc are givens.

1. Rechargeable electronic hot water bottle. Genius or what? This unexpected Christmas gift turned out to be just the ticket during a bout of flu. The charge lasts forever and it’s perfect for an achy back. Although it’s a tad heavy, I’m sure it will be my best friend on blustery hockey sidelines whilst 12-year-olds thwack seven bells out of each other.

2. The kitchen is a cornucopia of gadgety delights. I love my vegetable peeler (I’ve had mine for about 25 years – The Husband prefers a more modern pop-out one which favours awkward left-handed people).

3. The potato ricer. I’d always thought these pointless – what’s a lump or two between friends? But, no! Turns out there’s deep joy to be had from squeezing a couple of spuds and producing a fluffy mountain of mash on your plate – let everyone do their own.

4. At Christmas we rediscovered the little plastic screw thing lurking at the back of the drawer which turns out to be a cucumber twirler – ridiculous fun and pretty results. Stock up on cucumbers first. Having appeared at just the right moment, it’s disappeared again. If only all implements would just turn up when they’re needed – it would save loads of time, wouldn’t it?

5. More mainstream, but must have: the wand blender. Invaluable for soups, dips, herb-infused oils – pretty much everything, in fact, except ricing potatoes and twirling cucumber.

6. Electronic toothbrush. Years of over-brushing have worn away the tops of my teeth to crescent moons of heat-sensitive agony. I have finally overcome the tickle-factor of electronic toothbrushes and embraced the tingly polish and lighter touch. Useful advice: don’t try to talk or hear during use.

7. A cheeky little addition to the bathroom: electronic window vacuum. I know! Who’d have thought? Well, it’s brilliant for shiny shower glass. Say no more.

Electronic window cleaner - perfect for shiny shower glass.

Electronic window cleaner – perfect for shiny shower glass.

8. Looking back, the baby monitor. This bit of kit is not just a useful plot device in TV sitcoms and dramas – it’s blooming essential for any parent.

9. Head torch. For putting hens to bed after dark; and for lying in bed reading, your partner gently snoring by your side. Vital.

10. The electronic hedgetrimmer. Yes, I could use shears, but where’s the fun in that? Plus the scaffolding tower adds an extra frisson of danger when I shape the tall bushes.

11. A gadget newbie for me: a sewing machine. I thought my teacher, (scary Sister Veronica) had put me off sewing for life – but sewing machines turn out to be satisfying, useful and social. A young friend and I have spent happy hours getting to grips with square corners on bags.

12. Another Christmas present. The audio head band. Ideal for running. No annoying ear-piece-drop-out – just cosiness plus sounds. Is there an equivalent for summer?

Taking stock of my gadgets and gizmos has made February look slightly less bleak and unforgiving. Just think, if we all share our favourites, that’ll be Christmas and birthday presents nailed for the forthcoming year! Now, time to dig out the ancient coffee machine

A headtorch is essential kit for so many things - reading in bed, putting the hens to bed, stargazing (with a red lens, of course!).

A headtorch is essential kit for so many things – reading in bed, putting the hens to bed, stargazing (with a red lens, of course!).

(A version of this article was first published in The Berwick Advertiser on 6th February 2014)

All photographs courtesy and copyright of Kimberley Powell and the Berwick Advertiser.

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